This was another of my more recent sipdowns. It was also a tea for which I did not have particularly high expectations. For whatever reason, Jin Jun Mei never really seems to stick with me, and also, the various Jin Jun Mei offered by Yunnan Sourcing tend to strike me as being ridiculously hit or miss. The Pure Gold Jin Jun Mei of Tong Mu Guan Village has never struck me as being bad (usually it is quite good), but it also has never been one of the regular YS teas that excites me either. Fortunately, this 2018 production was good, probably the best of the comparatively few productions I have tried.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. I set the water temperature at 194 F and neither raised nor lowered it over the course of my review session. After quickly rinsing the loose tea buds, I steeped them for 5 seconds. This initial infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea buds emitted aromas of cedar, malt, smoke, baked bread, molasses, and tobacco. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and brown sugar. The first proper infusion brought out aromas of maple syrup, butter, cream, and chocolate. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented me with notes of cedar, malt, baked bread, grass, roasted almond, and brown sugar that were balanced by hints of roasted peanut, cream, butter, smoke, and molasses. The bulk of the subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of vanilla, marshmallow, brown sugar, honey, leather, sweet cherry, and orange zest. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of cream, butter, and roasted peanut appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, earth, honey, pine, orange zest, vanilla, ginger, marshmallow, leather, and chocolate. There were also some hints of nutmeg, maple syrup, red apple, pear, plum, sweet cherry, and tobacco that popped up here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor shifted and emphasized notes of minerals, butter, malt, cedar, cream, chocolate, and honey that were chased by fleeting hints of baked bread, smoke, roasted almond, orange zest, vanilla, ginger, sweet cherry, brown sugar, and maple syrup.

Overall, this was an enjoyable tea with a lot to offer, but if I had one serious complaint, it was that it grew very sweet and rich over the course of every gongfu session I did with it. There were instances in which the tea liquor struck me as being almost cloying. Even though I am not a huge fan of sweeter teas, this one was still enjoyable for me. It’s just that it would have been more enjoyable had the sweetness not been almost overpowering at times. To be clear, this tea was far from bad, but it was not really for me. At least I can say that it was more memorable and enjoyable than some of the other Jin Jun Mei from Yunnan Sourcing have been. I have no doubt that fans of sweeter black teas would love this offering. I could also see it working as a good point of entry into the world of unflavored tea for regular drinkers of flavored teas.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cedar, Cherry, Chocolate, Cream, Earth, Ginger, Grass, Honey, Leather, Malt, Maple Syrup, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Plums, Red Apple, Smoke, Tobacco, Vanilla

6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.



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